Wanted: next CEO for Greater MetroWest

Wanted: next CEO for Greater MetroWest

With Max Kleinman to retire, federation seeks ‘visionary’ exec

Wanted: a “worldly visionary leader” who has “the organizational savvy and polish to succeed in developing collaborative relationships, respecting tradition while recognizing when change is needed.”

It is part of a three-and-a-half-page job description for the next executive vice president/CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.

A 13-member search committee began work on Oct. 22 to find a successor for Max Kleinman, who is scheduled to retire as the federation’s top executive on Oct. 31, 2014.

Kleinman has led the umbrella philanthropy, one of North America’s largest Jewish federations, since 1995. The federation raised approximately $22.5 million in its most recent unrestricted annual campaign with an additional $1.3 million in designated giving, according to the job description. Its Jewish Community Foundation has assets of $356 million, having raised $26.8 million in 2013.

“Max has been remarkable. He has led us with vision and clarity for the past 18 years,” said federation president Lori Klinghoffer, who will serve as an ex officio member of the search committee. “But we can’t clone him, nor should we even try. It would not benefit the next person’s leadership.”

Search committee chair Gary Aidekman said the committee will consider candidates from both inside and outside the ranks of Jewish federations.

“We are open to exploring a wide variety of professional backgrounds to find the best exec to build on Max’s great accomplishments,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Working for this or another federation is not a prerequisite.”

The search committee — made up of nine men and four women — was selected by Klinghoffer and Aidekman.

“We are a diverse group representing not only current leadership but we have a diverse age range and geographic distribution, as well as some people who were outside the radar screen but have strong skills in executive positions,” Klinghoffer said.

The committee retained the Mandel Center for Leadership Excellence, the human resources development center for Jewish Federations of North America and the federated system, to guide the entire selection process.

“The goal is to find someone by late spring or early summer,” said Rea Kurzweil, managing director of the Mandel Center’s Talent Acquisition department.

Kurzweil said she has been asked to consider people “beyond the Jewish world, but they must have a connection to the Jewish world. They could be working in the corporate or nonprofit world and be the president of a synagogue. The constant throughout is the passion for the mission and the work we do for the Jewish community and the ability to communicate that passion. That is a given. It has to be there,” she said.

The job description includes demands for top fund-raising skills, business leadership and management experience, and understanding of the volunteer-professional partnership, essential in a federation where scores of lay leaders are involved in governance.

Kleinman’s successor will oversee a staff of more than 100.

The search comes as many within and outside the federation system are noting the relative dearth of female CEOs at large city federations. Among the 20 large-city Jewish federations, only San Francisco and Montreal have female CEOs.

“The best candidate is the candidate that will emerge successful,” Kurzweil said. “However, I would say there is a strong desire to see very appropriate, very strong women who will emerge as candidates. There is very strong support for that, absolutely.”

“I would love to see women as candidates,” said UJA Campaign chair and federation president-elect Leslie Dannin Rosenthal, a member of the search committee. “This has been an issue in the major federations across North America, and I would be excited to see women candidates — but we need to pick the best person for Greater MetroWest.”

Klinghoffer considers the Greater MetroWest opening a “plum position.”

“We are a flagship community in the federation movement — not only because of our proximity to Manhattan but because of the culture of this federation and the people who are part of it,” she said.

Kleinman, 64, who lives in Livingston, served as executive director of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation before coming to what became Greater MetroWest, whose territory includes Essex, Morris, Sussex, and Union counties and the northern part of Somerset County. Kleinman, who is also a past president of the World Council of Jewish Communal Service, received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from the City College of New York and a master’s degree in social work from Yeshiva University.

“It will not be easy to fill Max’s shoes,” said search committee member Gary Wingens of West Orange, chair of the federation’s Strategic Planning Committee. “I believe that the job description posted for the CEO position does a remarkable job at capturing the unique richness and needs of our community at this point in time and paints a vivid picture of the leader we are looking for as we move forward into the next chapter of our history.”

Interested individuals should submit a cover letter and resume to Rea Kurzweil at the JFNA Mandel Center for Leadership Excellence at rea.kurzweil@JewishFederations.org.

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